Starting a Business Checklist
Here is a quick checklist to help you get off on the right foot when starting your own business. This is by no means a set, nor exclusive template, but will cover the key areas of starting a business and hopefully save you a few headaches further down the line. But remember, don’t ever be afraid to make mistakes along the way, and when you do, try not to beat yourself up too much. No one can criticise or punish your mistakes as much as you can yourself. And believe me, you will make many along the way! The key is to be open-minded enough to accept your mistakes and learn from them. As long as we adjust our business and processes to prevent making similar mistakes again in the future, each mistake is a blessing. Remember, you will never fail, as long as you get back up to fight another day.
How to Start A Business Checklist
- Chose A Name For Your New Business
First and foremost, when setting up a new business you need to to pick the right name for your company. This is where most entrepreneurs start their journey. Many go down the route of naming their business after themselves. Personally, I don’t opt for this route for a few reasons:
- What happens down the line if you sell your business and the new owners put the business, and thus your name, into a negative light? It has happened to many before!
- It can be seen as egotistical, and no one wants to be seen as a narcissist!
- It’s not the most creative route and thus may your business merge too much into the noise of other brands, and stop your business from really standing out/being remembered
- Linked to the above, it can limit your branding and logo options.
Choose something punchy, something that will make the customer stop and think. They don’t have to like it… they just have to easily remember it.
- Checking A Business Name is Free
Once you have your name, we then need to be sure no one else is using it. To do this go to Companies House Name Checker and simply check if your name is free. We use this tool as part of our client vetting process also – to make sure our clients registered names for contracting and to ensure they are legitimate.
- Purchasing your Business Name
If your company name is available to register with Companies House, before you proceed with your registration, we want to make sure your business domains are available for online marketing purposes. If you are setting up a business in the UK you want your main website to sit on a .com domain. You also want to own the .co.uk domain – this you will set up to divert all traffic to the .com domain.
To check your chosen business name is free in domain form i.e. www.POSHAgency.com or www.POSHAgency.co.uk, and to purchase these domains, simply go to a reputable hosting coming website such as TSO Hosting or 1and1 and follow the steps to search for and purchase your domains. Don’t waste money on other extensions – .com and .co.uk are all you will need to secure.
- Registering Your Business Name
Do I need to register my business name?
The answer is yes, legally you need to register your business for tax purposes. You have three options for registering your business being setting yourself up as:
- A Sole Trader
- A Limited Company
- A Partnership
Which you choose really depends on your type of business if you are setting up with a business partner, where you work and whether you take people on to help.
All my businesses, I have set up as Limited Companies as this means my businesses finances are completely separate from my personal assets and finances and allows me to employ staff if and when I need to.
Being a Sole Trader means you do not plan to employ any staff and leaves you personally responsible for your business’s debts and your accounting responsibilities.
You can set up a Registered Limited Company yourself with Companies House HERE for just £12. Or, to be sure all is done correctly, you can ask your accountant to do this for you. This would normally cost between £120 and £250 dependent on your accountant’s rates.
Partnerships are for businesses set up by two or more people and share the risk across the multiple parties.
- Setting Up A New Business With an Online Presence
Now we get to the fun part, the actual running of your business and I always start with my business presence online. This helps me to define my business, who I am, what I do and what processes I need.
The key things to set up (regardless of your business… e.g. even if you are a B2B company you still need Facebook!) are:
A low-cost brand manager can create a decent logo for as little as £30 on Fiver.com. Be sure to send your designer examples of logos you like prior to them commencing work and don’t settle for your name in funky letters! Push them to design you a brand icon, a symbol that people will recognize to be your brand and think of what colours you want to use.
- A high conversion website with a strong presence on Google.
These don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to be professional! Please don’t go for the cheapest person you can find, and make sure whoever you work with is a strong leader in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If you want sales and quick, a perfect product for you is Quixites.
- A Proper Business Email Address
We recommend Google Business Apps for this as it offers you future flexibility at low cost. This also offers you a secure server in the cloud with exceptional backup, roll back and security facilities. We have saved thousands by running all our businesses through Google Business Apps and streamlined our teams and processes. Never lose your work again with a laptop crash or theft.
- A Proper Business Phone Line
Again we have saved ourselves hundreds of pounds by getting rid our expensive BT Business Lines by instead purchasing a virtual phone number. We specifically selected a code for the city we operate in and not an off-putting 0845 number and this number diverts all calls to our work mobile. This service costs us around £15 per month and is delivered by a wonderful company called Easy Answering.
- Social Media Platforms
Some social platforms drive brand, some drive sales messages, some are purely to get you up the Google rankings. The ones you need, and to be active on, and in this order, are:
- YouTube Channel
We recommend setting up a free social management tool such as Buffer to post across all platforms every second day at minimum. Buffer will post your message and images to multiple platforms from one simple place so all remain active. It also offers great reporting insights so you know how your posts are working for you.
- Offline Collateral For New Businesses
We all get excited during the setup phase of a new business, especially once we have our shiny new branding! But after 9 years of successful business, and a 3 business start-up experiences, I really feel this step can be omitted. Everything you need can be done and delivered online, at a far cheaper cost, with a far wider reach!
Business Cards: At some stage, you may feel a need for business cards, but honestly, this is not the time. We hardly use business cards for any of our businesses, and have wasted a lot of marketing spend on unneeded cards, or needing to change cards as we move office, change staff or refreshed branding…. Expensive! Once you go networking you will want a card, but it isn’t mandatory. We generally find the best policy, when for networking is to ask others for their cards so we can actively chase sales leads and follow-up ourselves.
Letter Heads and Comp Slips: Comp slips we do use regularly for posting cheques or forms to contacts, letterheads we print ourselves in Word when we type up letters.
Flyers & Brochures: Again this is something we have designed, printed and paid for time over… and NEVER use! Clients who do use them tend to get a better return from online… online brochures to us are the cheaper and more effective way forward. Plus Leonardo DiCaprio would be proud of you… you’re doing your bit to save the planet!
For all your offline collateral we recommend Exclaim Creative, for their price, quality and service.
- New Business Runnings & Legalities
If you do nothing else please, please make sure your Terms of Business and Contracts are watertight. This doesn’t mean you need to engage expensive lawyers. Good contract templates and guides can be found with a simple Google search and a bit of reading and thought on your part.
Google “Terms of Business” and “Contracts” for similar businesses, go through in fine detail editing for your business needs and collate your own. For my businesses, we have a Letter of Engagement which outlines:
- Our project with the client,
- Price and payment terms
- Signature page
Many clients do not return signed contracts so we strongly advise to include wording to this effect on all contracts and within your standard Terms of Business:
“Signature (electronic/original of this document or payment of your initial invoice will show intent to proceed as outlined above, in your proposal and in accordance with our POSH Agency Terms of Business available to view and download here Terms of Business.
If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
We refer our clients to our standard Terms of Business (TOBs) three times within this Letter of Engagement. Our TOBs sit on our website and we offer the link to these in our Letter of Engagement as well as emailing a hard copy to the client along with our Letter of Engagement. Always email these documents to your client as hard evidence that they were provided.
Our Terms of Business define our contract terms, payment terms, Intellectual Property terms, Termination needs, data protection, etc, etc, and are standard to every client, whereas our Letter of Engagement document includes information specific to that client’s Contract with us. Always include in this the client’s company number and legal name of clients registered business name and the name of your contact.
From here we would advise some legal support to ensure you have covered all entities, but this is for you to choose what is right for your business.
Ready to get started? Speak with us today and we will help you get off on the right foot to starting your new business. From online presence to great social media delivery that works.